The celebrations of the 141st anniversary of Nicholas Roerich and the 80th anniversary
of the Roerich Pact in the IRMT
“It is hard to write about his disease and last days. I will write about it later. But it is clear that his heart could not take the amount of venom produced by the insane humanity,” wrote Helena Roerich in one of her letters. More than a century has passed since then, the 20th century gave way to the 21st century, but the amount of venom has not diminished. Those who claim to be human beings demolish temples, desecrate holy places and slay their keepers. They erase Culture attempting to deprive nations of their past and, therefore, block their way into the future. The prophetic words of Nicholas Roerich are coming true: people today are divided not on the national, religious etc. basis but on the basis of their attitude to and perception of Culture. The uniqueness of the Roerich Pact is becoming clearer and we come to realize the indisputable rightness of the path Roerich showed us: Peace through Culture.
In his welcome address DC Kullu-cum-Director IRMT Mr. Rakesh Kanwar spoke of the eternal significance of the personality and creative work of Nicholas Roerich and the relevance of the pact drafted by him. He highlighted the continuing relevance of the Pact especially these days when cultural properties are threatened with destruction including at the hands of those who believe that these properties go against the tenets of their religion.
Mr. Kanwar noted the leading role of the Centre-Museum named after Nicholas Roerich, Moscow in propagating the ideas enshrined in the Pact and paid tribute to its Director General Mrs. Lyudmila V. Shaposhnikova: “A great soul, she was a writer, a thinker and an extraordinary personality who inspired everyone she met with”.
Mrs. Nana Mgeladze, Counsellor (Culture) with the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India noted that over the past 20 years the increasingly neglected estate in a quiet corner of the legendary Kullu valley became an attractive pilgrimage site for true connoisseurs and lovers of creative, cultural, historic, scientific and spiritual heritage of the outstanding Russian family of the Roerichs who made India their second home. It started also to transform into a source of education by bringing to the local children the joy of learning about the mysteries of fine arts, unfading traditions of classic Indian dance and music, original folk crafts. She highlighted the intention of the government of the Russian Federation to transform the Naggar Estate into a world-class museum, where not only the legacy of the great Russian family but also the priceless cultural heritage of the people of Himachal Pradesh are carefully preserved for the sake of the present and future generations. She mentioned that IRMT should become a solid bridge that links Russia and India spiritually, artistically, culturally and scientifically.
Mrs. Mgeladze solemnly presented to Mrs. Larisa Surgina, the Russian Curator of the IRMT and the employee of the International Centre of the Roerichs, Moscow and to Mr. Ramesh Chander, the Indian Curator of the IRMT the book titled “Indian Poem” published on the initiative of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India and devoted to the Indian page in the life and creative oeuvre of the remarkable Russian artist and traveler Vasily V. Vereshchagin and a collection of the Himalayan Kumaoni folktales compiled by the famous Russian Indologist of the 19th century Ivan P. Minayev.
The books were gifted to the IRMT specially on the occasion of the grand opening of the new Cultural-Educational Center of the IRMT comprising a library, a computer room and the Devika Rani Gallery. The Center was opened in the small recently renovated building adjacent to the Osborne Building where the Sunday Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children has been housed since the last year. The library will give a chance to visitors to relax on the balcony enjoying the marvelous view of the Kullu valley browsing through the books on the Roerichs, the culture of Himachal Pradesh, art, theosophy and Buddhism. Children can now come to the Center to study computers, while artists can conduct their exhibitions and master classes in the cozy halls of the gallery. The new Cultural-Educational Center of the IRMT that threw its doors open on the day of Nicholas Roerich’s anniversary is a veritable gift to all who aspire to art, knowledge and creative work.
As part of the celebrations the exhibition of paintings by a Marathi artist Atma Ram Koigade opened. The regular visitors to the Himalayan Roerich Estate know and like the art of this old friend of the IRMT who exhibited there more than once. This time he displayed not only his older works depicting the people and monuments of Rajasthan but also the recently created series on Goa with its recognizable landscape of palm trees and fishing boats and the series completed last summer in Chamba, the mountainous region to the west of Kullu.
In accordance with tradition the cultural programme started with the prayer to the goddess of art and learning Sarasvati. After that the schoolchildren from the neighbouring village of Katrain performed the traditional nati dance of two kinds: Kinnauri and Kulvi. The performers dazzled the audience with the brightness of their costumes, amazed them with their rhythmic movements and injected them with enthusiasm.
The short dance drama based on the Indian epic Ramayana and performed by the students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children delighted the audience. The young artistes presented the episode of the release of Sita, the abducted consort of the righteous prince Rama from the captivity of demon Ravana. The dialogue between Sita and Ravana, in which the demon attempted to coax Sita into betrayal praising his merits and belittling those of Rama, was particularly touching. But Sita remained unmoved and Ravana finally fell pierced with a toy arrow released from Rama’s golden bow. The Evil was defeated once again.
Thus the programme of the first festive day in the Himalayan Roerich Estate that started with the puja and the ceremony of hoisting Russian and Indian national flags and the Banner of Peace in front of the Roerich House closed on the triumphant note of the victory of Good over Evil.
The children’s painting competition “Let us Preserve the Sublime Heritage of the Past for the Glorious Future! Himalayan Culture in the Art of Nicholas Roerich” that took place on October 11 and in which the IRMT Art Academy students and the schoolchildren of Naggar took part became the next phase of festivities.
The Russian and the Indian Curator of the IRMT welcomed the children, their parents and teachers assembled in front of the open theater stage of the IRMT. Then the ICR employee Alexander Pereverzev told them about the Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace and drew their attention to the exhibition of Nicholas Roerich prints displayed nearby. The children studied the temples of the Kullu valley, petroglyphs and Buddhist stupas, stone carvings and monasteries depicted on the Master’s paintings and then transferred the images they particularly liked on paper. And the Himalayan culture experienced by Roerich in his heart and seen through the eyes of children came alive in the works of these young artists.
Although the winners of the competition will be announced on October 23, in reality there were no losers among the participants of the competition. Because the most important thing happened: children’s meeting with Beauty, and such meetings are never without results.
It was the traditional shanti-puja that opened the celebrations of the 141st anniversary of Nicholas Roerich and the 80th anniversary of the Roerich Pact for the protection of historic monuments in the International Roerich Memorial Trust. The holy fire ceremony was conducted on the Samadhi of the great Russian Maharshi – the place of his cremation, worship and eternal memory. At that place the Himalayan cedars rustle over the Roerich Cremation Rock and below the roaring Beas carries its rapid waters...